“I think one of the most underrated boulders that we don’t even realise is coming at us is the obsession with the internet and conversation on social media and engrossed you can get in that world and really kill basic silent time. That for me, right now is the biggest nonsensical boulder,” Alia Bhatt said in a recent interview. She added that she does a digital detox once a week or two. “If you want to be cool, being obsessed with social media is not cool. Be obsessed with the sky—stare at it and just smile. That is cool,” Bhatt expressed. We wholeheartedly concur.
According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span has dropped to a mere eight seconds in 2021, which is nearly a 25 per cent decrease from 2000. A study by the UK-based firm CyberSmile Foundation stated that 89 per cent of social media users believe it is damaging their mental health. And the sad truth is that these statistics are unsurprising in the fast-paced and unbalanced world we live in. To combat the negative effects that social media can have on us, including mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and self-doubt, a digital detox might be a viable solution.
Read on for the ultimate guide to a digital detox.
Before you begin, here's something to keep in mind. Regularize a schedule for your digital detox—this could be once a week, once every two weeks, or whatever time frame suits you best. You can also practice using your phone or other devices mindfully and sustainably on a day-to-day basis. Now that you're ready, here's what you can do.
Log out of social media
On the days when you decide to take a break from the screen completely, make sure to log out of all social media platforms. This will make it less tempting to take a quick glance. If you don't log off, you might easily give in to the urge to check every notification. Pro tip? Don't forget to save your passwords or note them down somewhere, because we all know how that would go...
Spend time in nature
One of the most impactful ways to detox is by immersing yourself in nature. Picture this: leave your phone at home, wake up in the early hours of the morning, and embark on a long drive to witness the sunrise, hike up to a waterfall, or simply spend time by the beach. Nature has the ability to create a calm atmosphere and help channel your energy in a positive, healthy, and constructive manner.
Take up a new skill
Being away from your screen may leave you feeling empty and restless. So, we recommend making the most of your time by learning something new. There are plenty of activities that you may have put off due to a lack of "time" (when in reality, you were busy doom-scrolling through your feed). You could sign up for that Bollywood dance class you've been wanting to attend and get those endorphins flowing. Alternatively, you could join a cooking or painting workshop, or even read a book on a topic that interests you.
Get your social life going
Here's a reminder that there's more to life than posting about your nights out on an Instagram story. Take your digital detox as an opportunity to catch up with your friends for a meal, game night, or a night out, and make sure no one touches their phone for the rest of the night. This would be a great way to engage in much-needed conversations with your best friends without the need to check the hundreds of notifications that may come your way. Now, if you feel ready to get back into the digital world but want to cultivate healthy and sustainable relationships with your devices and social media, here's what you can do.
Set time limits on your applications
This can be one of the most effective ways to avoid excessive screen time. Most mobile phones today have the option to limit your usage of social media or other frequently used applications. Once the time limit is reached, you will be automatically prevented from using them.
Avoid using your phone when you wake up and just before you sleep
Trust us when we say that you won't miss out on much if you don't check what's happening in the world for a few hours every day. Have a mindful morning routine that includes staying away from your phone, engaging in physical exercise, reading the newspaper, or anything else, and enjoying a hearty breakfast with your family before heading out to work. Staying on your phone late into the night affects your sleep cycle and mental health, so we recommend having a wind-down routine before sleep, which could include listening to calming music, reading, and meditating.
Designate tech-free time or zones
This could involve keeping all devices away when you sit down for a meal with your family or implementing a rule of not taking your phone into your bedroom. This will also help you stay away from the virtual world and allow you to channel your energy in a more productive manner.